Class B4-a 0-6-0 Switcher, #1251

Inside the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, April 2002. (photo courtesy Jeff Lubchansky)

Background & History

Class B-4 was an oddity in that there was no true class in the normal succession; instead the B-4a was rebuilt in 1918 from a Class I-2a Consolidation utilizing the shortened boiler, frame, drivers (minus rear set), rods, cross-heads and cylinders and given the number 1251. This engine served many years as the “Roundhouse Goat,” and carried “Reading Locomotive Shops” on the tank sides.*[1]

#1251 was the last steam locomotive in ICC service on a Class I railroad before being retired in February, 1964. Sold that same year to George Hart/Rail Tours Inc. York, PA. Last operated October 1966. Sold to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania May 1968. Moved to the Strasburg Rail Road for storage. Added to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania’s permanent collection. Cosmetically restored by RCT&HS volunteers in 1982. Currently on display indoors.

Archival Photos

#1251 at Reading, PA yards, date unknown. (photo courtesy Larry Berger Collection)

Class A-4b Switcher Specifications (as-built): *[2]
Builder: P&R Shops, Reading, PA Cylinders (2): 20" dia. x 24" stroke
Date built: August 1918 Cylinder horsepower: unknown
Wheels: 0-6-0T Boiler pressure: 150 p.s.i. max.
Length: 28' (engine) Tractive effort engine: 24,500 lbs.
Driving wheel diameter: 50" Tractive effort w/Booster: n/a
Weight on drivers: 120,000 lbs. Horsepower rating: unknown
Total engine weight: 120,000 lbs. Top speed: unknown
Total weight in working order: unknown Tender capacity: unknown
Grate area: 40.1 sq. ft. Fuel: Coal
*1 (info courtesy Steam Locomotives of the Reading and P&R Railroads by Edward Wiswesser)
*2 (info courtesy
(last updated: 12/07)